Freestyle: Living aloha at Burning Man

Aug. 31, 2013 | 2 Comments

Decadent Oasis campmates frolicing in the dust. This photo was taken with my camera by a nearby Burner — while I rubbed crud out of my eyes. (Star-Advertiser photo.)

Decadent Oasis campmates frolicing in the dust. This photo was taken with my camera by a nearby Burner — while I rubbed crud out of my eyes. (Courtesy photo)

BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / ekieszkowski@staradvertiser.com

It’s been a long day, especially since I had a very long night!

After finishing my blog Wednesday night, Aug. 28, it was midnight on the playa — but of course I still needed to explore.

Half a block down the temporary street next to my camp, I visited a jazz club where I heard a man scat-singing, using his voice as an instrument as part of a beautiful, bluesy, broken-hearted song. I made new friends who also admired the performance, and we explored another showroom with vintage dancehall music where people were wildly dancing. (Yes, some of them were naked.)

Paul Oakenfold was DJing, his appearance the subject of widespread excitement and a general agreement that everyone should meet there. He played at a massive sound camp called White Ocean.

I made it out there at about 3 a.m. There was what looked like an arena’s worth of people there, with hundreds, if not thousands, of bikes scattered about and music so loud it shook the ground.

Bottom line, I’m tired!

I slept in and dodged the sun again, but Thursday, Aug. 29, brought with it crew duties for my campmate Desire’e Kealohapauole Smith and I. We’d signed up to clean the 110-person camp’s private lounge and to spiff up the bar for a pau hana party.

So while it was still unfortunately hot, I put on some aloha wear — including pink slippers, despite the caustic dust — and set out for ice.

At the ice station: The sun was finally sinking by 5 p.m., but it was still pretty intense in the Black Rock Desert. (Star-Advertiser photo by Elizabeth Kieszkowski.)

At the ice station: The sun was finally sinking by 5 p.m., but it was still pretty intense in the Black Rock Desert. (Star-Advertiser photo by Elizabeth Kieszkowski)

Selfie at the ice station: I'm spiffed up and colorful in aloha wear so that I can do my volunteer shift at my camp's bar, repping Hawaii's aloha spirit with a hand-painted hat from 808 Urban. But first, we needed ice. (Star-Advertiser photo by Elizabeth Kieszkowski.)

Selfie at the ice station: I’m spiffed up and colorful in aloha wear so that I can do my volunteer shift at my camp’s bar, repping Hawaii’s aloha spirit with a hand-painted hat from 808 Urban. But first, we needed ice. (Star-Advertiser photo by Elizabeth Kieszkowski)

Even mundane tasks like this can become an adventure: On my way there, a man offered me a popsicle of my choice. And before we could get in line, the greeter informed us that we would have to dance our way in to the counter. (There’s a booming sound system at the ice camp.)

While I was sleeping and listening to music, I could have chosen to join a communal bike ride, attend a TED Talk, work out at a small, equipped gym (no, really) or listen to music at Center Camp.

Hopefully, I will get to do at least one of those things tomorrow. (Hint: music.) But the afternoons are hot and dusty, and I have been having great conversations and learning new things during my friendly encounters near my campsite — and at night, too.

There are tightropes all over our camp at Burning Man 2013. (Star-Advertiser photo by Elizabeth Kieszkowski)

It’s enjoyable just to hang out in the public part of our camp, which has a stage, covered lounge, DJ booth, hula hoops and more. This camp also includes multiple lines for balance walking, including one rigged line that requires a harness because it is about 20 feet off the ground and stretches between “volcanoes” in the camp.

A guy fell from it today, but the harness did its trick.

There’s also always the option of going out into the desert to admire the art. All of the CORE pieces have been burned now, but there’s plenty more to look at.

Admiring the desert art before it burns. (Courtesy Desire’e Kealohapauole Smith)


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Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at ekieszkowski@staradvertiser.com or follow her on Twitter.

  • http://www.supercw.com cw

    paul oakenfold nbd! this trip is amazing.

    • Desire’e Kealohapauole Smith

      It really was outstanding. So blessed to have been there with Elizabeth!!